Abolitionists and Apparitions–West Virginia

Z. D. Ramsdell House
1108 B Street
Ceredo, West Virginia

Zopher Deane Ramsdell moved to Ceredo, West Virginia at the invitation of Eli Thayer, the town’s founder. An abolitionist, Thayer invited his abolitionist associates from New England to join him in colonizing this area of—what was at that time—the slave state of Virginia. Thayer had founded this town on the southern side of the Ohio River to further his own abolitionist agenda.

A businessman from Abingdon, Massachusetts, Ramsdell arrived in Ceredo in the late 1850s and began building this brick house that still bears his name in 1857 or 1858. It was the first brick house in the area and was possibly constructed atop a Native American burial mound. Part of the home’s basement may have been constructed to hide slaves being guided to freedom on the Underground Railroad. With the outbreak of war not long after his home was complete, Ramsdell immediately joined the war effort on the side of the Union and rose to prominence within the army.

Ramsdell House, 2013, by Nyttend. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Following the war’s end, Ramsdell was asked by President Ulysses S. Grant to help in the reconstruction of the postal infrastructure in the area. Serving as a state legislator, Ramsdell was active in the creation of free schools for educating local children. The house remained in the Ramsdell family until 1977. The house was restored in the early 1980s and is operated as a small museum.

Tradition holds that the house is paranormally active due to the home’s location atop a burial mound and its use as an Underground Railroad stop. Doors opening and closing and lights turning off and on, all on their own accord are among the types of reported activity. Apparitions and sounds associated with the enslaved people who possibly moved through the house have also apparently been reported. There’s also some belief that both slaves and veterans of the Civil War are also buried on the property.

The home has been investigated three times by Huntington Paranormal with evidence being captured on the first two investigations. Blogger Theresa Racer, the organization’s historic research manager, posits that the evidence the group has collected points to the Ramsdell family as the source of the hauntings rather than Native Americans or slaves.